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Santa Ana winds blow in as L.A. sees historically dry conditions

October 03, 2013|By Frank Shyong

The Santa Ana winds expected to begin gusting Friday will blow across a Southland experiencing one of the driest years in more than a century. 

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings across Southern California, and firefighting agencies have already begun to position more resources in key areas.

Forecasters expect gusts of up to 50 mph, and dangerously dry conditions are increasing the risk of fire.

Just .09 inches of rain has fallen in the last three months, said JPL climatologist Bill Patzert.

"I can't exaggerate how crispy it is out there," he said. "It's really just super dry."

This year was was the sixth-driest year in 135 recorded years, Patzert said. 

A healthy rainfall can help mitigate the effects of a Santa Ana wind, wetting vegetation and reducing the likelihood of fires. But total precipitation for the first nine months of this year has amounted to just 23% of the area's typical rainfall, Patzert said. 

Across the state, firefighters have battled an unusually high number of fires.

Already this year, more than 5,600 fires have burned more than 146,000 acres. The five-year average is 4,000 wildfires by this time of year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


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